4 years ago

The Partnership no. 10

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  • Enza
  • Zaden
  • Partnership
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  • Cultivation
  • Radish
  • Crops
  • Varieties
  • Plants
  • Breeding

CSR Stronger together in

CSR Stronger together in Nepal It may be a cliché, but it’s oh so true: you’re stronger together. This is certainly the case in Nepal, where hundreds of thousands of farmers work together in small village cooperatives to grow the best produce. N-Agro N-Agro is supporting the pilot projects set up to grant small-scale Nepalese farmers access to highquality vegetable seed. The organisation is an expert in distribution. Product Development Manager for Asia Joep van Balen: “We help each other in this respect. N-Agro knows all the ins and outs of the Nepalese distribution network. We supply Enza Zaden’s improved tomato, cucumber, pumpkin and bittergourd varieties. And we work together in the CSR project in which N-Agro distributes local varieties and crops of the small-scale agricultural cooperatives of the country itself.” “Nepal is a challenging country for our hybrid varieties, partly because farmers there grow their own regional crops using local varieties,” says Joep van Balen, Product Development Manager for Asia. “Because of the small-scale production, this area is characterised by a tremendous diversity in plants, and that should of course remain unchanged. Nevertheless, it is our moral duty and mission to support these farmers with our expertise, to help more growers gain access to high-quality seed in this country, too.” So, in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility, Enza Zaden has entered into a partnership with Agriterra, an international agriagency promoting cooperation between farmers, and hence also a specialist in small-scale agricultural cooperatives. Present situation In every Nepalese village you’ll find a cooperative in which the local farmers work together in sowing, growing and selling their crops, but also in producing the seed for their next crops. These cooperatives encounter various problems, such as unwanted crosspollination, plant diseases and limited seed production - problems that have a great impact on the next harvested crops. Such problems can be countered with good varieties and the right technical expertise. Technical support “That’s why Enza Zaden has decided to help. Not with financial resources, but with technical support. This we are doing in three pilot projects involving three local crops.” They are all three staple crops in Nepal: a local chili pepper, a dry bean and broadleaf mustard, a leaf vegetable that is widely consumed in this country. The pilot projects involving these crops are carried out by cooperatives of three different villages. The local chili pepper project was launched first, in Makwanpur, a district just south of Kathmandu. Local expertise “We first wanted to find out how the farmers grow their crops now. I then gave them tips and advice for identifying, selecting and maintaining their national varieties. And I mean just advice, because the village farmers themselves know best which characteristics of their crops they need to evaluate. We’re simply helping them in their search for success by improving quality without adversely affecting genetic variation too much. This way each farmers’ cooperative develops their own variety, which is theirs alone. Joep van Balen explains that the local chili pepper pilot project has already started to pay off. The seed of the best hundred plants has been sown and the project is coming along nicely. “In July we launched the projects for the broadleaf mustard and dry beans in two other villages. It’s wonderful to be getting so much in return for so little effort. And our efforts are entirely in line with our primary mission: to grant professional growers access to high-quality seed.” Distribution There’s actually more involved than just offering the farmers technical support to help them produce high-quality seed themselves. Two other parties are making efforts to help turn the mission into a success. The Nepal Agricultural Co-operative Central Federation Ltd. (NACCFL), a national organisation, is providing knowhow on processing and packing seed, and will later help in the varieties’ registration. Registration of varieties is very expensive, but essential for the farmers, to allow them to sell their seed on the market. “This party is also of great importance for distribution, along with our Nepalese distributor N-Agro. All of the four parties are together helping to improve the standard of living of the population in general, and the small-scale farmers in particular. The projects are entirely altruistic, though I can’t deny that our support is also providing us with new contacts and inspiration. So in this respect it’s an ideal partnership.” The projects have been launched for a period of two years. Van Balen hopes that more good things will follow after that period: “These two years are for the pilot projects. Right now we’re still searching for the best approach and the best cultivation schedules. Once we’ve found them, we’ll be able to use that knowledge for other crops and other areas, too.” “N-Agro knows all the ins and outs of the Nepalese distribution network" The Partnership | 23

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